Worth County appealing judge's ordinance ruling
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
NORTHWOOD, Iowa -- The; Worth County Board of Supervisors is appealing an Iowa District Court judge's ruling that its Rural Health and Family Farm Protection Ordinance is void and unenforceable.
Ordinance supporters are raising funds for attorney fees so that taxpayer dollars won't be used.
The nonprofit Worth County Legal Defense Fund was created to raise money for the appeal. Jim Rice, a Hanlontown resident who served on the committee that developed the ordinance, has taken charge of fundraising. At last week's Worth County Board of Supervisors meeting, Rice said $12,500 has been raised, and he hopes to have twice that amount before he's finished.
The supervisors last week approved a memorandum of understanding that will be signed by Charles Cutler, the Des Moines attorney representing the county on the case, and Rice that says the county can't be held responsible for paying for the appeal. It also stipulates Cutler will take his direction from the supervisors; not those raising funds.
On March 17, the board voted 2 to 1 to appeal the district court decision. If sufficient financial support couldn't be raised within 30 days, they would consider repealing their decision.
Supervisors Dennis May and Darrell Bang voted in favor of appealing. Ken Abrams voted against it.
Cutler said the appeal has been filed with the Iowa Supreme Court. While appeals are sometimes handled with briefs only, he expects the court will ask for oral arguments, which are likely to come in the fall. He expects a ruling by the end of the year.
Cutler said he will bring requests from other organizations to file Friend of the Court briefs to the supervisors.
"I personally don't want PETA or the Sierra Club filing briefs on our behalf,'' Abrams said.
In his February decision, Judge Stephen P. Carroll said the Legislature has reserved to itself the area of regulation which is the subject of the Worth County ordinance.
Doug Tempus, a Northwood farmer and one of six farmers who brought the lawsuit challenging the ordinance, said Worth County Friends of Agriculture, the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Pork Producers Association will fund the costs associated with the appeal for his side.